Is Prophecy a Gift for Today? - Radical

Is Prophecy a Gift for Today?

Is the gift of prophecy merely temporary? When will prophecies cease? In this message, Pastor David Platt looks at 1 Corinthians 13 to determine whether or not prophecy is a gift for today. As with anything, Scripture alone contains the authoritative truth about prophecies. While the Spirit may grant the gift of prophecy, believers must always be equipped with the Word to encourage the Church today.

  1. Is Prophecy a Gift for Today?
  2. Defining False Prophets
  3. True Prophecy
  4. Two Implications About Prophecy

Watch Full Message Of “Secret Church 5: Exploring the Holy Spirit

1 Corinthians 13, “Love never fails. Where there are prophecies, they will cease. Where there are tongues, they will be stilled. Where there’s knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. Now we see, but a poor,” I’ve skipped down a couple verses, a couple of sentences, “Now we see, but a poor reflection as in a mirror, then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part, then I shall know fully, even as I’m fully known.” Here’s one example. Here’s one example, prophecy. The gift of prophecy. According to 1 Corinthians 13, the gift of prophecy is temporary. It’s temporary, “Where there are prophecies, they will cease.”

Is Prophecy a Gift for Today?

The question is when will they cease? And there’s really two options here. Will they cease when scripture is complete? That’s what the Cessationist would say. The Cessationists would say that prophecy ceased when the apostles finished, off the scene, “We’ve got scripture, we don’t need prophecy.” The other option is will it cease when Jesus comes back?

And this is a position that would be open more to someone from the Continuationist line, and it comes to this passage in 1 Corinthians 13, and basically what you’ve got is, “Prophecies, they will cease.” You look down, it’s one of the things I read. It says, “We know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.” So prophecy is imperfect and when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. Now this is the point of debate, because Cessationists would say when perfection comes, that’s referring to when the Word is complete. When scripture is complete, that’s when perfection comes. And I don’t agree with that.

I don’t don’t see that in 1 Corinthians 13 because when perfection comes I think is a reference to when Jesus comes back. I think it’s very clear when you look later in the passage, in the context here, “Now we see, but a poor reflection as a mirror, then when shall see face to face. Now I know in part, then I shall know fully even as I’m fully known.” This is talking about our glorification. This is talking about when we will see Christ, and we will be fully known by Christ, and our salvation will be complete.

It also couples with what Paul had said earlier in 1 Corinthians, 1:7, when he talked about our spiritual gifts are given to us as we wait for Jesus Christ, the revealing of our Lord, Jesus Christ. So gift of prophecy is definitely temporary. I don’t believe 1 Corinthians 13, at least not conclusively, certainly not conclusively, teaching us the prophecy will cease when scripture is complete. So you get to 1 Corinthians 14, and you’ve got a picture of prophecy described in 1 Corinthians 14:1-5, and what I believe 1 Corinthians 14:1-5 is saying is that until Jesus comes back, Christians desire the gift of prophecy, because the church is edified with the gift of prophecy.

Defining False Prophets

Now what’s what’s interesting is here, okay, so if there’s a gift of prophecy, does that mean there are Isaiahs and Jeremiahs in the church today who can stand up and speak the Word of God? That’s just as authoritative as what’s in this Word from Isaiah and Jeremiah? That I do not believe scripture’s teaching. I want to show it to you. I believe scripture’s showing us, think about it this way, three categories of prophecy. First, false prophecy. Deuteronomy 13, Deuteronomy 18, Jeremiah 23 all talk about false prophets, who are speaking lies. Here’s what false prophecy is.

False prophecy consists of dishonest lies, and involves deceptive speech based on no revelation. This is not something God’s revealing in prophet speaking. There’s no revelation here. They’re deceiving. They’re claiming to speak for God when they’re not speaking for God. And it ignores divine scripture. It undercuts divine scripture for that matter, but it ignores divine scripture. That’s false prophecy.

True Prophecy

True prophecy. So what we see in Isaiah and Jeremiah and Ezekiel and these other guys in the Old Testament, “Spirit of the Lord is on me,” that consists, true prophecy consists of inspired truth. This involves direct speech based on new revelation. What I mean by that is, and what we’ve talked about, God is revealing his Word and the prophets are speaking it. And it results in divine scripture. The prophets speak and we’ve got scripture. In the Old Testament, that’s what prophets were doing. In the New Testament, the counterpart to Old Testament prophets are the New Testament apostles. It says, “Paul an apostle of God speaking, led by the Spirit. Look at 1 Corinthians 2:13, “This is what we speak not in words taught us by human wisdom, but in words taught by the Spirit.”

So the apostles are now doing what the prophets have done, speaking as they’re led by the spirit, and that leads to the picture of scripture that we have, Old Testament prophets, New Testament apostles, they give a scripture that is true, it’s [inaudible 00:04:52]. Scripture is authoritative, true, authoritative. This is the Word of God, not the word of man. It is the Word of God through men. It is unique. There’s no other book like this that we hold in our hands.

It is sufficient. True, authoritative, unique, sufficient. This book has everything we need for life and godliness. God is not sitting back, wishing that he’d added something here that he forgot to give to us. Everything we need is right here. It’s sufficient. It is complete. It doesn’t need a volume two, it doesn’t need to be revised or updated by anybody. That’s what we have in the Bible.

So you’ve got false prophecy, true prophecy that leads to that, Old Testament prophets, New Testament apostles. And then you’ve got this picture of the gift of prophecy that’s been talked about in 1 Corinthians 14, “Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. And if a revelation comes to someone who’s sitting down, the first speaker should stop, for you can all prophesy in turns, that everyone may be instructed and encouraged.”

So there’s some level of prophecy that’s going on here, that’s not in one of those first two categories that is involving the gift of prophecy. I think what scripture is saying here is that there is a type of speech that consists of Spirit-prompted talk, Spirit-prompted talk, saying something that God by His Spirit, Spirit of God, brings spontaneously to our mind, and begin to speak, and involves direct-indirect speech based on established revelation.

What I mean by that, this is not a new Paul on the scene getting new revelation that’s coming down the pipe to give to the church. This is the spirit speaking to us, prompting us to speak based on what is in this book, and it’s tested. I say that, because it’s tested by Divine Scripture, 1 Thessalonians 5:19, “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire. Do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good.” That’s why he said, “Others should weigh carefully what he said.” When the Old Testament prophets speak, Isaiah wouldn’t come out and say, “You guys need to weigh carefully what I’m about to say.” Isaiah would come out and say, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says, listen.” Same thing in the New Testament apostles.

When gift of prophecy is being used, it’s always being weighed carefully. It’s being tested, because the gift of prophecy is imperfect. It’s not perfect. The gift of prophecy is imperfect, it’s fallible. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3, Paul is warning them about some prophecy that was wrong. It’s similar to, yet distinct from teaching.

It’s not just preaching, or teaching the Word, because that is listed as a separate gift there in Romans chapter 12. Some people think, “Well, how can the Spirit prompt talk that’s fallible? That may have errors in it?” Think about it this way, in light of the whole teaching picture, I teach the word Sunday in and Sunday out in this faith family. Is it possible that I say something in error? Absolutely. Everything I say is not infallible. There’s certainly fallible things that, but I pray, I hope the Spirit of God is inspiring me to teach.

In the same way there’s a picture where the Spirit is inspiring prophecy, prompting prophecy, but because it’s not on the same level as this picture right here, that it’s not infallible, authoritative, truth for us. It’s tested by infallible, authoritative truth. When you look at the gift of prophecy in the New Testament, you see people speaking about the future. You see people disclosing sins in unbelievers’ hearts and encouraging the church.

Two Implications About Prophecy

Here’s the implications. Two implications, remember that scripture alone contains authoritative truth for all situations at all times. Therefore, know the Word. We do not need, nor do we have anyone on the level of an Old Testament prophet, or a New Testament Apostle. Scripture is good, it is sufficient. We have everything we need. This book is our authority, not what you say or I say. This Word is our authority, therefore we know this Word.

Second implication, consider the Spirit may grant the gift of prophecy to apply Biblical truth at particular times or in particular situations. Therefore, seek the Spirit. In other words, I think scripture’s giving us a picture of times where the spirit may prompt someone to speak, based on the Word, to encourage and edify the church today.

David Platt

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder of Radical.

David received his Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of Don’t Hold Back, Radical, Follow MeCounter CultureSomething Needs to ChangeBefore You Vote, as well as the multiple volumes of the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series.

Along with his wife and children, he lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area.


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